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***You can find part one of this post here.***

Proudly nested just behind the elegant facade of the University of Manchester, just yards from where Ernest Rutherford did some very important stuff with atoms and what-have-you (yes, in Manchester, not Cambridge), lies the Manchester Museum.

Manchester Museum

Now, I don’t want to be superficial, but the obvious place to start with MM is size.  The range of exhibits fall perhaps somewhere in the middle of London’s British Museum and Natural History Museum.  However, if the Manchester Museum were to meet these bigger boys down a dark alleyway and say something inadvised about their parentage then I think it would be our Lancashire friend left with the bruised brickwork and broken wooden cabinets.

On the other hand, what might be genuinely lacking in breadth (and occasionally quality) is more than made up for in charm.  And I certainly don’t mean that as a patronising pat on the head.

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Think of this as an accompaniment to Picture of the Week: i.e. anything that doesn’t fit neatly under that heading will get squeezed into this one instead.  I suspect we’ll be featuring mainly museum exhibits, but I may come up with the occasional sculpture, installation or what have you…  First up:

Phillips Economic Computer

What the hell is that?  Good question.  It is, in a nutshell, an attempt at creating both a model and clear visual representation of national economics in action – using, of course, the universal language of dyed water.

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If Hitler Had Been a Hippy How Happy Would We Be

It appears that the Chapman brothers have been stirring up a little controversy recently with some work ripping off some dead Austrian artist.  It’s really very unlike them.

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Everyone knows that the first rule of art galleries is as follows: You do not commune with others in any voice louder than a whisper.

The importance of this rule has nothing to do with showing any kind of reverence to the works of art shown (they really won’t be offended).  Nor is it even about ensuring your dozing gallery guard can continue to receive their much-needed beauty sleep.  Nope, this rule is about something far more fundamental to the human experience: not looking stupid.

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Desmet 

As is often the case when I find myself in a relatively unfamiliar place, a recent weekend in Manchester simply seemed too good an opportunity to miss for sampling at least some of the city’s culture (that is, in addition to the city’s music and the cricket ground).  I hastily acknowledge my habit can reveal an unappealing air of desperation at times – am I really that keen to just go see some art, any art? – but repeated self-examination reveals the sad truth: I actually like this stuff.  Other people have exotic beaches or glittery nightclubs to excite them – I’m genuinely thrilled by the chance of that one great painting I’ve never come across before leaping out at me.

On this occasion, a lot of long hard Googling came up with the Whitworth Art Gallery to explore.  A solid-sounding collection of prints, wallpapers, textiles and, erm, watercolours, my interest was truly piqued by two complementary exhibitions showing now and until the start of August. Read the rest of this entry »

 

The very, very first in a regular series:

Who?  Charles Sheeler

What?  Ballardvale

Where?  Dulwich Picture Gallery

When?  On show as part of the small-but-fascinating Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s until 8 June 2008.

Why?  Because I took home a postcard of this having seen the exhibition recently and every time I’ve looked at it since the colours seem more perfect and the angles more dynamic.  Not a powerful picture as such, but an incredibly assured one. 

And an exhibition that is well worth seeing by the way, tracing America’s emergence as an ‘art power’, following the dramatic influence of the European avant garde, and ending up with New York effectively overtaking Paris.  A little extra exposition on the walls would not have been unwelcome though.

 

For reasons that may or may not become clear as we proceed, the following quote seemed as good a place as any to kick this whole thing off from…  Although much-referenced, it has not been easy to find comprehensive links, but some are provided below.  Let’s be honest though, the words speak entirely for themselves:

These ambiguities, redundancies, and deficiencies recall those attributed by Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia called the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

In its distant pages it is written that animals are divided into:

(a) those that belong to the emperor;

(b) embalmed ones;

(c) those that are trained;

(d) suckling pigs;

(e) mermaids;

(f) fabulous ones; Read the rest of this entry »

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